But is spread betting only available in the UK and Ireland?

Not really, if you are located in Europe or Australia or even Asia you may well be able to open a spread betting account. Quite naturally, financial spread betting is massive in the United Kingdom and Ireland because of the tax regime here – no stamp duty and no capital gains tax on profits (but cannot offset losses against future earnings either). Most spread betting and CFD providers are in fact also looking to expand overseas.

Do note however that different tax regulations might apply in your local country is you are resident outside the UK or Ireland – in this case you might prefer CFDs which offer the same flexibility as spread bets but are targeted to the international clientele like those in Europe, Australia and the Middle East. CFDs are again exempt from stamp duty but capital gains tax applies (but allow you to offset losses against future earnings). Remember that the real attraction of these products are the flexibility (huge range of markets) and leverage that they allow. I would recommend IG Markets as a CFD provider which also offer direct market access.